(ATR) Olegario Vázquez Raña credits the support of family for the success he has found in life.
Vázquez Raña ended his 38-year tenure as president of the International Sport Shooting Federation in 2018. Three years earlier he retired from the IOC after serving for 20 years.
Noted Cuban journalist Miguel Hernández interviewed Vázquez Raña about his life in sport. Hernandez has covered the sports leader over the past 40 years.
In the second part of this three-part series, Vázquez Raña talks about family, the ISSF and shooting at the Olympics.
Married for 53 years - María de los Angeles Aldir and Olegario Vazquez Raña. (ISSF)
"The biggest fortune I have is my family" - Olegario Vázquez Raña
Olegario Vázquez Raña will return to the Olympic Games in Tokyo 56 years after he debuted in that city as an Olympic athlete.
And he will travel there with his memories and with a woman named María de los Angeles Aldir.
“She is the greatest. For 53 years of marriage I think we've never had a problem,” he explains about what his wife has meant in his life.
"She has accompanied me to all the firing ranges and in business she has always been my special adviser.
"Many nights when I returned with a very serious problem, when I could not sleep, she would ask me what’s wrong?"
“After telling her my worries, I would automatically fall asleep. After a while, she would shake me saying "Now I cannot sleep!"
"In short, my main companion in sports, business and life has been her. The biggest fortune I have is my family: two daughters, María de los Angeles and Mónica and one son, Olegario. All are married and I have nine grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
"Every Monday we meet to eat at the house. It is what has given us the strength: the great family union.”
Vázquez Raña tells me the last anecdote. After finishing his presidency at ISSF on November 30, the next day he flew with his family to spend a weekend in Paris and then a few days in Spain, resting in Avión, the town in Galicia of his ancestors.
Vázquez Raña returned to Mexico on Dec. 9, the next day was his birthday and a big surprise. About 200 people gathered for a dinner, friends and family.
"It was a very happy day," he says.
A Return to Tokyo
Olegario Vázquez Raña will return to Tokyo in 2020 with all his dreams come true.
A successful athlete turned into a legendary sports leader. Outside of sport he is one of the most influential businessmen in Mexico.
Vázquez Raña says he is responsible for a series of momentous changes in sport shooting aimed at modernizing the sport, to make it more attractive to the public and TV. He says some of these changes were in line with the objectives of the Agenda 2020, long before it became a compass of the IOC.
The innovations, which really started from the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, will take a new direction on the Asaka shooting range, northwest of Tokyo, he says. Vázquez Raña says the new
Olegario Vázquez Raña at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing (ITTF)
mixed team competition and gender equity in the rest of the 15-event program shows how shooting is becoming more inclusive.
Changes for Shooting
As the head of the ISSF Vázquez Raña experienced important events such as the disappearance of the USSR and the political and territorial transformation of Eastern Europe.
"With the disintegration of the USSR, it has ceased to be the strongest shooting Federation in the world. New, smaller federations have been formed," he says.
"The federation from the German Democratic Republic was one of the strongest in the world. When West Germany joined, it lost strength in both its managers and competitors," he observed.
The world of sports shooting was also changing in Mexico at the time. His success as a youthful civilian competitor helped change the face of the sport. "Previously, the competitors were from the police and the military. When I became known, civilians began to enter, men and women. And an interesting facet began."
With the proximity of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, and in the midst of doping problems in a number of sports, Vázquez Raña says doping is not an issue for shooting.
"We had some problems, but we hold four World Cups every year where we are very strict with doping control," he explains.
"In the Olympic Games we have not had doping cases thanks to this severe control."
Vázquez Raña says there should be no concern that this is a dangerous sport with its use of weapons, unlike other Olympic disciplines.
Vázquez Raña was asked if any competitor had to face insurmountable requirements for the entry of firearms into nations hosting tournaments.
"No, we have never had problems to travel with weapons or to enter the countries, because our weapons are sporting," he says.
Vázquez Raña says he has helped support ISSF events with his own fortune.
"On several occasions. It was necessary to save events of the ISSF that could not have been carried out due to lack of resources on the part of the organizers ".
Now an honorary IOC member after his retirement, Vázquez Raña says he worked hard during his 20 years on the IOC to improve the status of sport shooting.
"For 20 years I was member of the IOC and during that time I dedicated myself to forging a great relationship with the president in turn and with the majority of the IOC members to support my sport,” he tells Around the Rings
“The majority did support shooting, but there were some who were, are and will be against,” he says.
"But for me it was interesting from within the IOC, with my relationships, to make shooting one of the most respected sports."
He says it is difficult for him to accept that there is no Mexican member on the IOC since his departure three years ago.
"Yes, it's the new rules and President Thomas Bach, who is a very intelligent man, will know when it's time to name the new members."
He also admits that with his retirement as President of the ISSF, he has left an important gap in the panorama of Mexicans in the leadership of international sport.
"Nevertheless, the new leaders know how to fulfill all their responsibilities. A person of any nationality can lead an international sports federation.
Written and reported by Miguel Hernandez. Translated and edited by Ed Hula.
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